Sunday, July 31, 2011

Papaya as a puppy

I received this photo yesterday and it made my day.

Having adopted "Maiah" when she was 8, I had no idea what she'd looked like as a pup.

In the summer of 2000, Jason and Jessica adopted her — when she was only 12 weeks old. Look at her tiny tail and big feet!

She grew into her features, as dogs do. The pads of her paws are no longer pink and I can't pick her up, but she's still every bit as adorable, with the same white socks and quirky smile.

Now she's 11 years old — 11 and a third, really. I took this photo today.

Bundle of joy to bundle of oh boy: Doesn't she look like a mutt capable of dastardly deeds? Yet I'm really lucky that Jessica and Jason gave her to me. She is a great character!

Maiah-Papaya, you have always been loved.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ loss

I knew Princeton would be challenging, but the fact that we beat them on their home courts in our first meeting had given me hope.

At #1 singles, Sandy truly put up a honey badger fight — and came away with the closest match of the night, a 7-5, 6-3 loss. It was wonderful to see you and Wendy talking afterward about what a great match you had. And you aced her a couple times? Tremendous!

At #1 doubles, Patrice and I had our first loss of the season at 3.5. Being down 5-0 in the second set, I said, "Any ideas?" And she said no and laughed. That actually made me feel better. And then we won three games! I wish we could have played longer and taken it to a third set; there is no one else I would rather strategize with. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to you, but I hope you weren't plagued by nightmares about Jan crazily piloting a pink couch.

Becky and Jan, Carol and Jean, and Lisa, I didn't get to talk to you about your matches — after our team lost, maybe we didn't all feel like sharing the specifics. (If you did, we can still do that!) I will say that Jean, I'm glad Amy didn't take out your eye. She definitely has some honey badger qualities, too.

Patty, the homemade nuts and caramel brownies helped ease the pain. But I especially appreciated you staying late and talking. Not as much fun as our Sunday brunches, but sitting in the near-dark having someone to reflect with was just what I needed.

Beth, Dianne, Katie, Colleen and Kevin, Dan and Mary, Eric, Terry, and Jennifer, thank you so much for cheering us on. I know there are many things in life other than tennis, so it meant a lot to me that you were there.

My friends also deserve some props. Chris, I appreciate the good wishes and conversations about Biofreeze. Hal, thanks for the many Mexican lunches. Kelsey and the jewelry Janes, it's so thoughtful that you ask how things are going. Kelsey, I loved all the fist pumps, good luck texts, and "You can do it!"s. And Keith, you are the best for dropping off wine. I'm lucky to be surrounded by terrific people in tennis and in life.

Yes, this was a tough night. At 29 and 16 (compared to Princeton's 37 and 8), we are now out of the running for playoffs.

But I am so proud of our team and our efforts. Everyone played hard. And if we were going to get swept, who better to do it than the team that came in second at state last year?

As always, onward!

Go team!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ seventh team win

Honey Badgers win again!

Tonight was our second meeting with Le Club. This time, we played on the air-conditioned courts at Highlander — such a relief in this ridiculously hot weather.

Yesterday, I saw Jody, Le Club's captain, win a singles match for our 4.0 team (yay!). I tried to get her to drink beer afterward so she'd be hung over, but she did not fall for it. And I had only one beer.

What I love about Jody is that she is casual and friendly — sure, bring the lineup on a post-it! — but she wants to win. (Just ask her teammates on any of the five teams she's on.)

She and Jessica played #1 doubles against Jan and Becky tonight. They cruised to a 3-0 lead.

But then Jan and Becky, who also want to win (always!), decided to radically change their game. Instead of power hitting and volleying, they started lobbing. A lot.

Team Jecky came back to win it 7-5, 6-3.

What I really admire is their ability to change their game. That is a difficult thing to do — especially to keep at it when you're down. So, phenomenal job, both of you — not just at winning, but at respecting and trusting each other enough to forge ahead with something different.

On the second court, Sandy and I played together and won 6-1, 6-2. Any anxieties I had about playing with a different partner disappeared as soon as we started the warmup. Sandy is a terrific partner. And tonight she was also really good-natured when I yelled "Bounce it!" (i.e., she let it bounce and did not refer to me as "Mother"). Seriously, she is having an incredible season, and I felt lucky to share in it tonight. Thanks for letting me play the deuce side, too. Mother loves the deuce side!

After we finished our match, I hung out upstairs.

Jean and Carol split sets. Terry and I saw Carol walk past us before they started the third. We waved, but she didn't see us. She was in a zone. I didn't get to talk to Jean, but you can always expect her to bring the fight. Maybe because she tells you in emails that say stuff like, "I'll be there, ready to win!!!"

The Le Club ladies played hard — fantastic volleying! — but the red team triumphed over the blue. Later, over some celebratory wine, Jean put on her Honey Badger shirt and gave Carol some crap about her serve. Jean is apparently fierce to her teammates as well as her opponents. But hey, it works! She brought her unique brand of motivation to last week's three-setter and won that one as well.

Good job, Carol and Jean! Another W for you.

The longest matches: singles.

At #1, Lisa played the same opponent she played last time. They are both really strong players. She was down in the third set, 4-1, but changed her strategy. (I love learning this stuff in the post-match powwow!)

She got two more games before Carolyn won. Singles can be a lonely game, but you really stayed in it tonight. Way to compete: 26 games!

And then there was one.


She and Zara played long, long, long points. While we were standing behind the glass watching, Jessie (from Le Club) walked away to get food. She came back and they were still playing the same game. I figured that they must have been at deuce. Zara took the game.

But Katie hung in there.

She stayed calm, even though her dad was watching and all the other matches had ended. And she did not look tired. At all.

Great job, Katie: You have amazing stamina and mental toughness, to have come back from a first set loss to win it! We're all proud of you.

Thanks to everyone who cheered us on. It makes the whole experience even better, seeing our friends and family (Terry, Dave, Molly, Lynn, Joe) cheering us on. Kelly, I love that you stayed the whole night and shared in our success. (And Patty, thanks for accepting my obsessiveness. I'm glad someone does!) Love the team spirit!

After our eighth week, we are 29 and 11.

Go team!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ sixth team win

The Honey Badgers journeyed to Pleasant Valley tonight.

The ladies from the valley of pleasantness were kind, but they weren't about to hand over any matches. I wouldn't expect anything less from a team that's been to Indy three times.

That said, Lisa was the first person off the court, after a 6-1, 6-0 victory. Way to go! (Your opponent told me she wished you made more unforced errors. Obviously you didn't. You were her first loss of the season.)

At #1 singles, Kelly put up a fight: 19 games before her opponent closed it out. It was a top-notch effort against a consistent hitter (who's also playing 4.0).

And though I doubt a cliché will make you feel better, I'm going to put it out there anyway: Have faith that it's never over till it's over. Really. The next point is always up for grabs, so know that you can win it. Keep fighting the good fight! (Okay, two clichés in one paragraph is overkill. But I've had to repeat them all to ease the pain of the 6-2, 6-0 drubbing Patrice and I suffered last night. "Lesson in humility." "Learning experience." "Will make me a better player." Yup, I know them all. And Beth, thanks for your calm reassurance sans clichés.)

Now back to the matter at hand:

In doubles, Colleen and Marilee played on a different court than assigned and forgot to update the score cards, but it all worked out: They rallied to win, 7-5, 6-1. It was amazing to watch their combination of aggressiveness and patience — and how they got into a rhythm of the right shot at the right time. Well played!

Dianne and Sandy also played a great match: After losing the second set, they won the third.


No question, they wanted to win. Love it! You two are solid as partners and as all-around teammates. And great work at staying undefeated, even with different partners.

The last match to finish: At #1, Jan and Jean played a nailbiter.

They volleyed. They lobbed. They split sets.

Jean compared Jan to her 4.5 mixed doubles partner, saying, "Ron would have gotten that."

Somehow this motivated the power hitter in Jan. After being down in the third set, they came back to win it, 7-5. Holy Honey Badgers! It was brilliant tennis; their opponents played well, too, which makes the victory even sweeter.

Post-tennis, we shared subs, salad, key lime pie, and cream puffs. The PV team is a gracious group, and I enjoy the ritual of sharing a meal.

The hard-fought victories have brought us to our 25 and 10 record.

Go team!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ fifth team win

Another team win!

We played tonight's match indoors at Bluemound, which to me is one of the toughest places to play. Being indoors is great in the winter, but when it's summer and the fans make noise without really cooling, well, that depletes my energy.

But enough about the conditions. Here's the rundown:

At #1 singles, Kelly gave it her best against Peggy. I did not see the match, but I could tell from her face afterward (red!) how hard she had worked. Kelly, we love, love, love your effort and your stamina.

On the second court, Katie won her match 6-2, 6-1. She is a quiet winner, our Katie, stealthily beating her opponents. Though I'd love to know her secret, there's no point in overanalyzing what works (subtle fist pump here).

At doubles, we all had decisive straight-set wins. Patrice and I finished at 6-1, 6-1. I felt like we were more like ourselves tonight with set-ups and put-aways. And I even ate a chicken crunch salad for lunch instead of Qdoba. Crazy, isn't it?

Beth and Colleen won 6-1, 6-2. They also won when we played the Bluemound team at our first match. I didn't start blogging until the week after, but their win that night was a bright spot in our overall team loss. Glad to see history repeat itself! You make a good team.

Dianne and Marilee, who have both played with several different partners, won 6-0, 6-1 in the dungeon, the separately enclosed court. Nice! Marilee subbed for Sandy, who had a suspicious story about an injury while fixing the over-algae-fied pond. (I'm just kidding. Sandy, we need you healthy. Glad you rested tonight.)

Sandy's injury didn't keep her from coming to cheer us on. I love that. Lisa, thank you, too, for staying to the end on a busy work night. And Jean, you put my worry to rest with your willingness to be a last-minute sub.

All of us — our opponents included — are Highlander members. Three years ago, I was on their team. They were my introduction to summer league and permanent court time. There were book clubs and parties. We go way back.

So it's a crazy tangle of emotions, because I never want my friends to lose.

But the season goes on. And our record improves to 21-9. Cheers to all my teammates, past and present.

Go team(s)!